Late on Friday night the World got news that Chadwick Boseman passed away after a secret three year battle with colon cancer. His family put out the statement on his Twitter account and fans of Boseman mourned the loss of a hero. 2020 seems to be serving blow after blow, but this one hit particularly deep for a lot of people. Chadwick Boseman represents something more than just an actor. He represents an entire culture. He is a hero to so many kids who could finally have a hero they can identify with. Through his work, Boseman has portrayed some famous and influential people in Black history. But most of all, he will be remembered for playing Black Panther. Boseman left this earth, but left behind a lasting impact. A legacy worth preserving. A memory worth fighting for.
Legacy is tough to describe. How do you properly remember a person after they’re gone? How do you keep their memory and their influence intact? Chadwick left behind a body of work that speaks for itself. In just 12 years as an actor, he has helped inspire and empower so many people through his work and his actions. Before starting his professional career, Boseman was enrolled in a summer program at Howard University that was funded by the world-renown Denzel Washington. Years later, in a tribute to Washington, Boseman expressed his warm sentiments towards the actor and described how he helped pave the way for younger actors of color to step into Hollywood and made it possible for them to be successful. Boseman was inspired by Washington and became an actor because of him.
In turn, Boseman became to today’s younger generation what Washington was to him. Kids will remember the feeling they had when they finally got to see a superhero with their skin tone on a big screen. King T’Challa means more to kids of color than anyone can imagine. Watching Black Panther for the first time was a monumental moment for so many. Seeing those people, in those costumes, speaking that language like it was never done on the big screen before will go down in history as a pivotal chapter in representation in Hollywood.
That is why his passing hit so hard for so many people. It’s not just the roles he played, but the impact that those roles had on a whole culture and beyond. From the first black man in the MLB, to the first black man in the US Supreme Court, to the first black major superhero, Chadwick’s films touched so many people of so many different ages with so many different film interests.
Losing Boseman feels tremendous… but his legacy will live on. In the world-renown broadway musical ‘Hamilton’, Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote that legacy is “… planting seeds in a garden you never get to see”, and those words ring true when thinking of Chadwick Boseman. Through his work and activism, he has planted seeds in the gardon of Hollywood. Seeds that represent diversity and representation on screen, that will go on to grow into a world where it is not uncommon for a black child to see someone who looks like them in a huge Hollywood blockbuster. He will always be remembered as a pivotal part in the story of on-screen diversity and accessibility. He will always be a pillar for future actors of color. He may be gone, but his memory will be honoured and his legacy will go on, just like Wakanda, forever.